Kevin Na is tied for the lead with Nick Watney at -17 through 54 holes at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Vegas, but the most-talked-about swing he made all day is the tee shot on par-4 15th.
At first glance, it may have seemed like Na whiffed his drive, but it was pretty obvious he had no intention of hitting the ball. (I mean, c’mon, he’s not going to miss the ball by a foot.) Instead, he didn’t feel comfortable with his backswing, but he couldn’t stop the club, either, so he pulled out and intentionally missed the shot. Apparently, it’s a frequent occurrence for Na.
“I did it on TV a few times,” said Na after shooting 66 on Saturday. “I do it every time (I play), probably one or two a round. I already did it on the front nine with an iron, and nobody talked about that.
“I’ll take it back; it feels decent, and my transition is what I’m always working on. It’s always my bad habit is I get quick. And on the way down my transition doesn’t feel right, and I try to stop, and obviously it’s impossible for me to stop. The only way for me to stop is I have to come up and go over the ball.”
Na wasn’t concerned that he would be given a penalty stroke because he’s discussed it with officials on multiple occasions, but he still informed them of the incident(s) on Saturday and was given the all-clear.
“I’ve had a talk with a bunch of rules officials, I mean even a couple years ago,” he said. “I remember at (the Sony Open in Hawaii), it started with the left arm injury and it kind of became a habit. I told them: ‘Hey, guys, I do this all the time. So I’m just letting you know ahead of time that I do this all the time.’ And we had a big talk, and (the officials) said ‘It’s not a big deal. As long as you don’t make contact, it doesn’t matter.’”
The decision in the Rules of Golf that covers Na’s apparent whiff, via ProGolfTalk: “The player is considered to have checked his downswing voluntarily by altering the path of his downswing and missing the ball even though the swing carried the clubhead beyond the ball. If the player had not successfully checked his downswing (i.e., he had struck the ball), he is considered to have made a stroke.”
Here’s the video of the air shot on 15 tee for your enjoyment — one of the commentators practically called it.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)